Pitching without a net

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
11:42
PM PT
Dan Haren has been one of baseball's best pitchers -- first in starts, second in shutouts, seventh in ERA -- for the past two years.

No matter how good he is, he can't win a 0-0 game. Neither can Ervin Santana. Nobody can.

While Haren (1-4) hasn't been at his best this season, he admitted after Monday's 5-0 loss to the Oakland A's -- the Angels' eighth shutout this season, easily the most in the majors -- the lack of run support makes his work trying. All of the Angels' shutouts have come with either Haren or Santana on the mound.

"Pitching with a lead is obviously easier than a nothing-nothing or 1-0 game, but I've been in the big leagues for eight years, I've pitched in a lot of low-scoring games," Haren said. "Would I like a six-run lead in the first? Of course, but it just wasn't the case and I've got to be better."

Haren didn't sound all that frustrated Monday. He has an easy-going demeanor and rarely does. But it can't be easy operating with a margin for error that's as easy to find as a contact lens dropped over the side of a boat.

Haren has been dealing with some lower-back stiffness in his past two starts and his stuff isn't quite as crisp, but in a typical season, an offense would be working with enough flow to give you the occasional breather from the heavy lifting. Haren gave up a couple of runs in the fifth inning to put the Angels down 4-0 and it felt like the lights had turned off at Angel Stadium.

The Angels are 2-16 when the opponent scores first.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia, pressed to describe his team's frustrations on a nightly basis, blurted out Monday, "This team's too good to be shut out as much as we have."

"It's just going to be a grind. There's no such thing in this game as feeling sorry for yourself," Scioscia said. "There's only one way out of the hole and that's to crawl inch-by-inch, pitch-by-pitch and start to put good at-bats together, good offensive games, and move forward and that's what we're going to do."

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
11 3.62 114 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAM. Trout .299
HRM. Trout 24
RBIM. Trout 76
RM. Trout 74
OPSM. Trout .970
ERAG. Richards 2.74
SOG. Richards 143